So Christmas is almost upon us, and you’ll probably have to entertain screaming children at some point over the holidays. But if you’re not up for My Little Pony, we’ve come up with some kid friendly horror movies. Our motto is start them young!
Watching the Ghostbusters battling Zuul and his minions as an adult is about as much fun as movies can offer. But think back to watching this at eight years old. The movie switches so quickly between horror and comedy. It’s full of eighties nostalgia, demons and one liners. Plus The Gatekeeper and the Keymaster are genuinely terrifying.
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas
This one you can legitimately say is a festive movie. It’s Christmas through the eyes of Tim Burton, it’s weird, gross and dark – and kids love it. A lot of parents had concerns when the film was released, wit the whole Santa kidnap plot – but any kid I’ve asked loves the dark visuals, the morbid sing a longs, and the memorable, creepy characters.
So it’s not a kids movie, but perhaps you want to introduce your kids to horror without throwing them in at the deep end. Or maybe you just want to watch a classic horror, but for some reason The Evil Dead was vetoed by whoever has to deal with the kids nightmares. The Universal monsters are usually the first monsters we become acquainted with, and Frankenstein has some pretty complex messages for a kid. But lets be honest, we all loved this monster as a child.
7. Hocus Pocus
Do you spend a great deal of Christmas wishing it was Halloween instead? Us too! Hocus Pocus is cheesy, extremely 90s, but a lot of fun. What I probably liked as a kid was that the witches were genuinely bad. There wasn’t going to be any redemption – they’d sold their souls to Satan and murder children. It’s refreshing for kids to see a baddie who isn’t going to get a Disney happy ending.
It’s ET gone horribly wrong! It’s violent, gory (if you can find the un-edited version), and a fantastic comedy. Gremlins has a long censorship history with regards to whether it is actually a kid movie. But these guys never scared me as a child, in fact, I had complex plans to assemble an army of them.
5. Something Wicked this Way Comes
Ray Bradbury is the writer who penned dystopian sci-fi thriller Fahrenheit 451. You can’t show that to kids – it’s brutally depressing, but you can show them Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bizarrely, this spookfest is a Disney film. Seriously, check out the poster. Does this look like the kind of movie to give kids a warm glow? No, it looks like the kind of movie where Jonathan Pryce will scare the hell out of them with Nosferatu fingers and a sinister hat. Beautiful scripted by Bradbury and gothically spooky, it’s a horror movie for all ages. Just don’t expect the kids to sleep afterwards.
4. The Witches
Look at that face. That’s what all kids want to see before bed, right? Kids tend to come through the Dahl mangler in a battered state, whether bullied, neglected or set upon by squirrels, but it’s an even darker fate that awaits young orphan Luke. He finds himself stuck in the middle of an AGM of England’s nastiest witches. Their motives are grim. Their strategy – to transform all of the county’s children into mice, is pretty messed up. But that face, that’s whats really going to stick with them.
Neil Gaiman’s novella, delightfully rendered in stop-mo magic by Harry Selick, makes perfect family viewing. Perfect family viewing, that is, from behind the sofa, as Coraline’s adventures in the ‘Other’ world build to a very menacing reveal. ‘Other’ Mother, whose sewing kit joins Cruella de Vil’s cigarette holder as one of the scariest accessories in animation history, shows a scary side to voice actor Terri Hatcher that she never showed us as Lois Lane.
2. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Say you want to squeeze some important life lessons into babysitting. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has one of them covered – keep away from strangers. That moment when the carnival-style covering falls from the Catcher’s cart to reveal a iron-barred cage beneath, that should wake the kids up! And the Child Catcher’s bulbous nose and air of ‘undertaker’…still creeps us out.
Ah Tim Burton. The creator of childhood nightmares. Of course, the star of the show is Michael Keaton’s title character, the most obnoxious bio-exorcist ever committed to film. His unpredictable ability to do pretty much anything to anyone, be it whacking two people into the ceiling with a pair of giant mallet hands and a couple of test-your-strength machines, or making a deceased married couple scream by having snakes fly out of his face, make the movie hugely rewatchable. As a child, it’s fabulous, fantastical, and occasionally, really rather scary.